The results are in!

Residents share their opinions on local dining options

During the month of September, NOELA Newsletter readers entered their preferences for dining options and their opinions on establishments currently in the area. The results are shown below:

When asked how often they eat out in New Orleans East, 37% responded with weekly, while 34% responded with monthly. The remaining respondents indicated that they don’t eat out very often, but reasons included that there are few options to choose from, or they expressed fatigue from eating at the same establishments repeatedly, the majority of which are fast food.

When asked if they eat out in other parts of the city, respondents stated that they do so on a weekly basis almost 64% of the time, while almost 25% eat outside the area  on a monthly basis. Factors which determine how often they eat in New Orleans East include

available choices (almost 86%), while 27% said that proximity to home or work determined how often they eat in the area.  Eighteen percent (18%) said that the time of day was a factor.

For fast food restaurants that would be good additions to the area, a whopping 80% of respondents want to see a Chick Fil A come to the East, followed by 38% who want a Panda Express, 38% who want a Sonic, 32% – Dairy Queen, 28% – Starbucks and 26% – Whataburger.

What restaurant would residents most like to sit down in? Seventy-four percent (74%) said Zea’s Rotisserie & Grill, followed by 64% who long for an Applebee’s; 57% each for Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse; and 55% each for TGI Fridays and Cheesecake Factory. Other popular choices were Longhorn Steakhouse (49%), Cracker Barrel and Bonefish Grill (46% each), Pappadeaux (43%), Red Lobster (41%) and Buffalo Wild Wings (29%).

To look further at why residents might not be eating at restaurants already in the area, respondents were asked to rate Level of Service and Quality of Food. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s Pizza and Papa John’s Pizza were all rated overall as Good with small numbers of visits rated as Poor or Excellent. New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood had the highest ratings of Very Good in both categories.

For restaurants not specifically listed, the highest rating (Excellent) was given to MadChef at 59th Restaurant & Bar on Bullard Avenue with a nod to the steaks, lobster and other dishes offered there. Fire Food & Spirits received a rating of Very Good. Noted omissions by respondents were healthy food and vegan restaurants, but a respondent also noted that quality in the East was lower than that at the same business in other parishes.

With regards to Food Options and Cost, New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood had the most ratings of Very Good. Other restaurants had a Good rating. One respondent referenced Blaze Bistro’s 2 for $20 deals as cost effective, but said that they are not offered often.

Final thoughts: Several comments addressed the need for more options, and less fast food. A respondent felt that some restaurants would benefit from apps, due to the convenience and fast service times that result. Another said that the attitude of fast food employees is awful, and yet another said that parishioners of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, just one of several large churches in the area, have no places to eat when they get out of service. Yet another respondents said that Houston’s, Don’s Seafood Hut, Saltgrass should have been added to the list of restaurants being considered.

So what does all this mean, and where do we go from here?

This is only a small number of the residents of New Orleans East, but it may be a good representation of the larger population. What would it take to bring new restaurants to the area? What incentives are in place to encourage new development? What programs are in place to prepare potential business owners for the rigors of operating a business? How could we all take part in such development?

We look to elected officials for the answers to these questions, and the ball is now in their court to respond with answers and an action plan for sparking economic development.

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